There’s a new band in town – and they’re only around for two more nights. It’s Hedwig & the Angry Inch, and the Circa '21 Speakeasy is the perfect venue for a show that is simply a rock concert. With just enough Quad City references thrown in to make it seem like an actual tour, Hedwig (Anthony Natarelli) and her band (Kyle Jecklin on bass, Peter Letendre on drums, and Ben Kays on guitar) take you on a captivating musical recollection of the headliner's life.

Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday was a Broadway hit in 1946, and while the subject matter holds up 72 years later, it isn’t strictly necessary that it does. While there are some parallels to be drawn from the Timber Lake Playhouse’s production and today’s society, the audience at Friday night’s performance didn’t seem to dwell on them, as director Chuck Smith put forth a straightforward comedy that elicited some chuckles but probably not intense political discussions.

Every summer, the Quad Cities is blessed with an extensive live-theatre scene, and the months are crowded with show after show. Many of them are epic or extravagant productions such as Mame, The Marriage of Figaro, Beauty & the Beast, The Bridges of Madison Country, The Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ Superstar and those are just examples from the first half of June.

But then there are the smaller, more intimate ones. Presentations of works that you’ve maybe never heard of. Things that sound interesting but are overshadowed by bigger, more well-known titles. Shows such as the Black Box Theatre’s musical offering Baby – which may well prove to be the sweetest, most heartfelt, and most authentic musical you’ll see all season long.

Life is tricky with Trixie, considering she’s a toddler who communicates only in gestures and gibberish. Such is the premise of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s absolutely delightful children’s show Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical.

At Friday night's final dress rehearsal of Genesius Guild's As You Like It, there were instances in which performers were forced to overcome numerous distractions from around the park. The distant sounds of children on the playground, a flock of birds singing their twilight song, an occasional motorcycle passing by … even the noise of a rushing freight train from the bottom of the hill.

One could make the case that these distractions would lessen the overall enjoyability of this Shakespeare production. But I found the opposite to be the case, for they reminded me that this is public theatre at its finest – an opportunity for all to come and enjoy classical theatre no matter the emptiness of their pockets (though donations are gratefully accepted), and even if performed in the sweltering mid-June heat, by actors with true love for and dedication to the art.

Big-band music and huge dance numbers filled with sequin gowns and big-city lights are what I experienced at Quad City Music Guild's latest production Mame. With a multitude of cast members to fill the ensemble, Saturday's June 9 performance was packed with comedy, fantastic singing, and extravagant sets.

What's the buzz? I'll tell you what's happening over at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre – the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. And from the outstanding choreography by Katie Johannigman to the stellar vocals by Jesus portrayer Ben Cherington, I was thoroughly entertained.

My kids grew up on Disney's Beauty & the Beast. I've seen the animated movies and TV specials. I've tripped over toys. I have faded photos of my daughter dressed in a brilliant ballroom gown. I've listened to Alan Menken’s soundtrack (with lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman) hundreds of times, seen the story performed on ice, and watched the live-action film earlier this year. But I’d never seen the Broadway-musical adaptation, and now that the Timber Lake Playhouse has opened its extravagant version of this classic tale, I can cross the live version off of my theatrical bucket list, too.

Marijuana is an “unspeakable scourge,” warns The Lecturer (played by an augmentedly-bearded Andy Curtiss) at the start of the QC Theatre Workshop's hilarious production of Reefer Madness. A scourge, warns the man, that's “turning all our children into hooligans and whores!”

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find innumerable lists of the greatest books of all time. But if you aren’t quite as well read as you’d like, the Spotlight Theatre has a solution for you with their inaugural production of All the Great Books (Abridged).

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